Just weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, the New York Yankees hosted the Arizona Diamondbacks a short distance from Ground Zero.
That night, Oct. 30, 2001, President George W. Bush took the mound at Yankee Stadium to deliver a historic first pitch. The picture-perfect pitch he delivered that night has been hailed as a moment of healing for the country by many writers, including MLB columnist Hal Bodley.
We watched baseball through wet eyes for much of the autumn of 2001, but nothing soothed the healing more than President George W. Bush's appearance at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 30.
Baseball has a way of doing that.
It's our national pastime.
In America's darkest moments, from World War I to the Great Depression to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, baseball has been an escape, preserving and helping our country through its most difficult times.
Politics were forgotten that October night when Bush went to the mound to deliver the ceremonial first pitch. There could not have been a better setting or a more appropriate stage.
It was especially important to New Yorkers, but millions more watching on television undoubtedly got the same patriotic feeling.
Rescue workers were still sifting through the ruins of the once stately twin towers of the World Trade Center only about 12 miles away in lower Manhattan.
Once Bush took the mound and delivered that pitch, the message was clear.
In a sense it was a fastball down the middle–unhittable.
I walked out of Yankee Stadium hours after the game and didn't really care who won.
The United States of America won that night and once again I was forever reminded that patriotism and baseball go hand in hand.